Condoleezza Rice condemns Iran - standing next to a Dictator!

I was writing away on my German Diary while half watching the news on BBC World. Something caught my eye there for a slight second, a familiar face, a foreign flag. I had my suspicions but thought it could not be. So I went to the website of the State Department and after some digging (they didn't seem to want to post it on their frontpage) I found out that I was not mistaken.

There was Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State of the USA, standing to one of the world's most brutal and notorious dictators, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea. All that was reported on the news, of course were her statements condemming Iran for enriching uranium.  It wasn't too dangerous to allow questions since the two questions reporters were allowed, of course, solely focused on Iran. Not on the dictator.

Quotes, links and more below the fold.

Here is the link to the transcript from the State Department: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2006/6 4434.htm

So, what does Madam Secretary have to say to the dictator of Equatorial Guinea? A couple of guesses here: "We strongly urge you to hold free and fair elections""I am happy to announce that the President has agreed to free all political prisoners". Well, it looked more like this:

Good morning. Welcome. I'm very pleased to welcome the President of Equatorial Guinea, President Obiang. We will have a full set of discussions about our bilateral relationship, about some innovative social programs that USAID is involved with and about the range of regional issues that we both confront. So thank you very much for your presence here. You are a good friend and we welcome you.

I know I shouldn't ask. But, what about "Freedom" and "Democracy". Wasn't that what the Bush administration was aiming for? What happened? Why is an African dictator a "good friend"?

Oil.

No, it's really that simple. Hardly anyone really cared about Equatorial Guinea until a few years ago. It's not attractive in any way, near the equator, so not much tourism and no resources. Until recently.

Huge oil reserves were found in 1996. The third largest in Sub-Saharan Africa. So much oil for such a small country that Equatorial Guinea is now one of the richest countries in the world with a pro capita income somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 which depends on whether you believe the IMF or the CIA World Factbook. According to the latter the GDP per capita for the US is $42,000. Which begs the question: why is Condi sending USAID to a country that is richer than the United States?

Well, somehow the trickle down effect doesn't work that well in Equatorial Guinea either. It just all stays in the family, the Obiang family. Most people are dirtpoor.

And, just so you're wondering. Here's a look at the Human Rights Report on Equatorial Guinea issued by Madam Secretary's very own State Department on March 8 of this year, so little over a month ago:

Equatorial Guinea*, with an estimated population of 500 thousand, is nominally a multiparty constitutional republic. In practice the party founded by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Partido Democratico de Guinea Ecuatorial) and his Fang ethnic group, which has ruled since the country's independence in 1968, dominated the government. The 2002 presidential election was marred by extensive fraud and intimidation. The international community widely criticized the 2004 parliamentary elections as seriously flawed. While civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces, there were some instances in which security forces acted independently of government authority.

The government's human rights record remained poor, and the government continued to commit or condone serious abuses. The following human rights problems were reported:

* abridgement of citizens' right to change their government
 * security force torture, beating, and other physical abuse of prisoners and detainees
 * harsh and life-threatening prison conditions
 * impunity
 * arbitrary arrest, detention, and incommunicado detention
 * harassment, detention, and deportation of foreign residents
 * judicial corruption and lack of due process
 * restrictions on the right of privacy
 * severe restrictions on freedom of speech and of the press
 * restrictions on the rights of assembly, association, and movement
 * government corruption
 * restrictions on human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)
 * violence and discrimination against women
 * trafficking in persons
 * discrimination against ethnic minorities and HIV/AID victims
 * restrictions on labor rights
 * forced labor
* child labor

News accounts of Madam Secretary and the Dictator looks something like this:

"This is not a question of Iran's right to civil nuclear power," she while greeting President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Moasogo of Equatorial Guinea. "This is a question of, ... the world does not believe that Iran should have the capability and the technology that could lead to a nuclear weapon."

AP report on washingtonpost.com

I know nothing more is to be expected from the mainstream media and nothing but lies is to be expected from this administration, but I'm literally quite sick.

[all emphasis in quotes is mine]

Cross posted at DailyKos.

Tags: africa, BBC World, Condoleezza Rice, Equatorial Guinea, human rights, Iran, Oil, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (all tags)

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